Straight to Video: A look at the eagerly awaited latest film in the V/H/S franchise.
First, let me say thank you to my LHS colleague Hugh McStay, who got an early screener version of the film and graciously stepped aside so that I could review it this week.
Many thanks, Angry Scotsman!
To the film itself: long-time LHS subscribers will know that I am a big fan of this franchise (a few years back, I penned a tribute to the entire series). I wasn’t much taken with the last one, V/H/S/99, though – my feeling was that it ‘suffered from budget’ a little (as we know, more money does not necessarily make for a better horror film, and often the reverse is true).
Perhaps oddly – given that it was shot back-to-back with it – V/H/S/85 is, for me, something of a return to form for the franchise. There’s the usual extreme visuals and dark and violent content, piggybacking on the innately disorienting presentation of the anthology material (and the core concept that all the footage is discovered on old videotape). And there’s something new here – two of the stories are woven through the film, one of them being an unexpected continuation of an earlier segment.
So let’s take a look at the five stories (and I’ll try to avoid serious spoilers):
David Bruckner’s (The Ritual) contribution is an alternative take on the ‘monster in a laboratory’ that we’ve seen before in the franchise. A university research remain is studying a shapeshifter they’ve called Rory. To educate him about human culture they leave a television set running in his room.
I mean what could go wrong with that???
Seven teenagers go camping next to a lake. There’s old signs everywhere saying not to go swimming. They do.
So now you’re thinking ‘Yeah, seen this film before’. But this is the V/H/S franchise so no, you really haven’t.
And you’re really not going to see where this one is going…
God of Death
This is the good stuff right here! An earthquake interrupts a Mexican news broadcast, and as the survivors struggle to get out, through the rubble of the collapsed building, they come across a subterranean chamber, with walls made of skulls and a statue of an ancient Aztec god.
Does everything go well for them after that?
Not it does not.
Building on the 80s obsession with Virtual Reality, this tale sees performance artist Ada Lovelace explain to her audience that the world has killed God and replaced him with technology.
Looks like not all Dark Gods are Mexican, then…
Bratty teenager Ruth takes us around her family barbecue before revealing their ‘somewhat unusual’ family tradition. This one is the continuation of an earlier story – can you guess which one…?
Scott Derrickson (Sinister) starts us off with detectives investigating a sadistic murder and it all seems very standard ‘police procedural’…until the lead detective reveals that the crime scene is identical to the contents of a videotape he received at the station, a few weeks prior.
For context – and for you youngsters – 1985 was the year that Re-Animator, Day of the Dead, Fright Night, and Lifeforce all came out.
V/H/S/85 feels subtly like a tip of the hat to those classics – 8/10, well worth a look! Check it out now on Shudder.
We’ll survive if we all just stick together!
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